God, Islam, Rasuls, Prophets, Angels, Muslims, Mankind

Does the Quran really promise 72 virgins for Muslim martyrs in paradise?

The straightforward answer is NO! There is no pledge of 72 virgins for martyrs, terrorists or suicide bombers anywhere in the Quran. Many translators of the Quran translated from Arabic to other languages have used the Hadith and other Islamic sources to complete the Quran translations. One therefore finds many translations that use stories from the Hadith to explain the actual Quran translations.

Many people claim the promise is in the verses 29 to 34 from the chapter 78 of the Quran. A good translation of the verses is as follows:

[78:29] We counted everything in a record.

[78:30]  Suffer the consequences; we will only increase your retribution.

[78:31]  The righteous have deserved a reward.

[78:32]  Orchards and grapes.

[78:33]  Magnificent spouses.

[78:34]  Delicious drinks.

It is clear from the translation of the verses that no such promise of 72 virgins exists in the Quran.

The Arabic word for ‘virgin’ has been mistranslated

The houris are mentioned in several passages of the Quran, always in plural form. No specific number is ever given in the Quran for the number of houris accompanying each believer.

The Arabic language was born as a written language with the Quran, and there’s growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic. The Quran says martyrs going to heaven will get ‘hur,’ and the word was taken by early commentators to mean ‘virgins,’ hence so-called 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant ‘white’ and was commonly used to mean ‘white grapes’. Grapes make more sense in context because the Quran compares them to crystal and pearls and that paradise are described as abounding with fruit especially white grapes. The number ‘72’ does not even appear anywhere in the Quran.

72 virgins

72 virgins exists in weak and fabricated hadiths

The confusion arises over one oral tradition by Imam Tirmidhi. He cleverly crafted the “72 virgins” that has now become implanted in the minds of radicalized, ignorant, superstitious and misinformed Muslim men. A widely transmitted hadith of imam al-Tirmidhi explicitly notes that male martyrs will enjoy the pleasure of 72 virgins in paradise. Does it make sense to believe it?

According to al-Tirmidhi, a martyr has 7 special favors from Allah. They are:

  • He [or she] is forgiven his sins with the first spurt of blood.
  • He sees his place in paradise; he is clothed with the garment of faith.
  • He is wed with 72 wives from the beautiful Maidens of paradise.
  • He is saved from the Punishment of the Grave.
  • He is protected from the great terror (during Judgment Day).
  • On his head is placed a Crown of Dignity, better than any ornament.
  • The world and all it contains, and he is granted intercession.
  • And seventy people of his household will enter paradise.

A hadith narration related by Bukhari states that everyone will have two wives from the houris, (who will be so beautiful, pure and transparent that) the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh. I do not understand this hadith! If a woman is so much transparent as mentioned in the hadith, does such a woman really look beautiful?  What kind of beautifulness that is!

Another, hadith reported by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj Nishapuri, relates that the first group to get into Paradise will be like the full moon during the night, and the one following this group will be like the most luminescent of the sky’s shining stars in the sky; each man among them will have two spouses, the marrow of whose shanks will glimmer be visible from beneath the flesh—none will be without a spouse in Paradise.

In another Tirmidhi hadith reports: Al-Hasan Al-Basri says that an old woman came to the messenger of God and asked, O Messenger of God make dua that God grants me entrance into Jannah. The Messenger of God replied, “O Mother, an old woman cannot enter Jannah.” That woman started crying and began to leave. The prophet(s) said, “Say to the woman that one will not enter in a state of old age, but God will make all the women of Jannah young virgins. God Most High says, ‘Lo! We have created them a (new) creation and made them virgins, lovers, equal in age'”.

Another hadith transmitted by Ibn Majah in his Sunan: A woman does not annoy her husband but his spouse from amongst the maidens with wide eyes intensely white and deeply black will say: “Do not annoy him, may Allah ruin you. He is with you as a passing guest. Very soon, he will part with you and come to us”.

However, other scholars object that the narration granting all men in paradise 72 wives has a weak chain of narrators.

The term ḥur can be explained in other ways

Some also have argued that the term ḥur refers both to pure men and pure women (it being the plural term for both the masculine and feminine forms which refer to whiteness), so the belief that the term houris only refers to females who are in paradise is a misconception.

The Quran uses feminine as well as gender-neutral adjectives to describe houris by describing them with the indefinite adjective, which some have taken to imply that certain passages are referring to both male and female companions.

Female equivalents

Some argue that while the term “houri” may refer to female companions, “this does not necessarily exclude the existence of handsome male companions for female believers”.

The absence of mention of particular companions for women has been attributed to the societal context of pre-Islamic Arabia, where references to female sexuality were considered to be inappropriate.

Some Islamic scholars believe that the references to houris and other depictions of paradise should be taken to be allegorical rather than literal, citing the “impossibility of man’s really ‘imagining’ paradise”.

[The Quran 2:25]  Give good news to those who believe and lead a righteous life that they will have gardens with flowing streams. When provided with a provision of fruits therein, they will say, “This is what was provided for us previously.” Thus, they are given allegorical descriptions. They will have pure spouses therein, and they abide therein forever. There are many allegorical descriptions in the Quran, especially descriptions of Heaven and Hell. But there is no pledge of 72 virgins for martyrs, terrorists or suicide bombers in the Quran because such kind of belief does not make any sense. Therefore based on some weak and fabricated hadith, a true Muslim cannot believe such impossible, illogical and unrealistic thing. Come on! Please do not be a blind believer.

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